Ex-SC Judge Markandey Katju Suggests Modi Govt Stopped Justice Valmiki Mehta’s Transfer on CJI Gogoi’s Request
Katju wrote in a Facebook post that there were 'serious allegations' against Justice Mehta whose son is married to CJI Gogoi's daughter.
Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju on January 17, 2019 wrote about the “non transfer” of Justice Valmiki Mehta of Delhi High Court, who Katju says is a relative of current Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. He said that the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre stopped the transfer of Justice Mehta after requests from Gogoi who was an SC judge at the time.
In March 2016, the Collegium headed by then CJI TS Thakur had reportedly recommended that Justice Mehta be transferred out of Delhi High Court, however, the government did not act this recommendation. It was widely reported that Justice Thakur had even threatened to take away judicial work from Justice Mehta. However, after Justice Thakur retired, the government had sent Justice Mehta’s file back to the collegium which was headed by Justice JS Kehar who had succeeded Justice Thakur as the CJI. In July 2017, Justice Kehar had then, “relented to the Centre’s proposal to reconsider the decision to transfer Justice Mehta out of Delhi High Court,” Bar and Bench had reported at the time.
Referring to this episode, Katju wrote, “It was only after Justice Thakur’s retirement in January 2017 that the Govt sent the file back to the new CJI Kehar, whose Collegium then withdrew the recommendation for transfer.”
Katju says that CJI Gogoi’s daughter is married to Justice Mehta’s son, adding, “this is yet a mystery, but the rumour I have heard ( and it is only a rumour, which may or may not be true), is that after the Collegium headed by the then CJI Thakur recommended the transfer of Justice Valmiki Mehta, Justice Gogoi, the sambandhi (relative) of Justice Mehta went to PM Modi (or some high ranking Minister) and pleaded that Justice Mehta be not transferred.”
He also says that it is rumoured that on Justice Gogoi’s request, the govt “held up the file till CJI Thakur’s retirement.” Katju also says that while Justice Thakur was relentless, his successor, Justice Kehar was “more amenable.”
Recently, of the Supreme Court has come under fire in the wake of Alok Verma’s removal as the CBI director, and due to the Supreme Court collegium’s decision to appoint Justice Maheshwari and judge Khanna by superseding 32 judges. The latter move has been condemned by the Bar Council of India as well as former judges.